Food insecurity has long been an issue for college students in the United States. To assess how food security among students could be improved through education, Susana Matias, a Cooperative Extension specialist the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology (NST), and Mikelle McCoin, an assistant adjunct professor in NST, co-authored two analyses centered around an NST nutrition course with an integrated teaching kitchen. The course, Personal Food Security and Wellness (NUSCTX 20), launched in 2016 and is designed to provide cooking and nutrition skills to students experiencing food insecurity.
In one study, published in the journal Nutrients, Matias and colleagues reported a decrease in food insecurity and stress levels among students who took the course. In another study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Matias and her co-authors analyzed the changes in diet, attitude, and meal preparation behaviors of 214 participating students over five semesters. After taking the course, students reported an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, as well as cooking meals more frequently while reducing the number of skipped meals.
"Our findings suggest that providing opportunities to increase food literacy and develop culinary skills in a college setting could address food insecurity and potentially improve students' well-being more broadly,” said Matias.